Search results for "rios clementi hale studios"

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(Small) Lot Angeles

Rios Clementi Hale Studios uses nordic detailing for Habitat 6, a new L.A. “small-lot subdivision” development

Los Angeles–based architects Rios Clementi Hale Studios (RCH Studios), Riley Architects, and Integrated Development recently debuted Habitat 6, a collection of six new single-family homes in Los Angeles’s Los Feliz neighborhood.

The project is made possible by L.A.’s “small-lot subdivision” ordinance, a special land use maneuver instituted back in 2005 aimed at increasing the availability—and density—of single family housing across the city’s existing neighborhoods by allowing developers to subdivide existing lots into multiple properties to build collections of detached single-family residences. More controversially, the project is also the result of a protracted preservation struggle that resulted in the demolition of the Oswald Bartlett House, designed in 1914 by visionary Los Angeles architect Albert C. Martin. Applications for cultural monument status for the home were denied in 2014, paving the way for its demolition and replacement with RCH Studio’s units.

Bob Hale, partner at RCH Studios, described the difference between the design of a traditional single-family residence and a small-lot subdivision project: “The main issue here is that we have a single-family unit that’s part of a multi-family community, so engendering a sense of community in the overall project while maintaining sense of privacy for each of the units was one of the main objectives.”

As with most small-lot subdivision projects, Habitat 6’s site is organized around a central driveway used to access each unit’s two-car garage. In a nod to the normative tract house, each home features a small ground-floor yard. The homes range in size from 1,954 to 2,106 square feet and feature a flexible room on the ground floor, combined living room, kitchen, and dining areas along the second floor and two bedrooms, each with en-suite bathrooms, on the floor above.

Each home sits on a Douglas Fir wood-clad parking plinth, while the buildings’ exteriors are clad in expanses of white stucco interrupted by vertical bands of floor-to-ceiling punched picture windows. Some of these openings wrap the corners, while others are contained within wood-clad recessed and pop-out volumes. The units’ apertures are positioned such that neighboring homes do not face into one another. Inside, living room areas are designed with 10-foot ceiling heights (generous by Los Angeles standards), and feature clean, white walls accented with raw wood planks. Other interior finishes include marble countertops and backsplashes in the kitchen, and tile and board-formed concrete wall surfaces.

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Urban Theatricality

Rios Clementi Hale choreographs a new park for Houston
Rios Clementi Hale Studios (RCHS) plans to transform Houston’s Jones Plaza from a sterile concrete jungle into a verdant, multi-functional space for locals and visitors to enjoy. The 1.5-acre design concept called “Urban Choreography” aims to embody the charm and appeal of Houston’s celebrated Theater District. With the growing number of workers, residents, and visitors to the area, there has been an increasing demand for pedestrian and transit-friendly environments with an abundance of green and open space. “Within Downtown, the Theater District and its many venues create a ‘magnetic field’ of culture that generates buzz and catalyzes investment in the surrounding neighborhoods,” RCHS said in a statement. “Jones Plaza, at the epicenter of the Theater District, can provide an inviting green oasis that enhances downtown life and it can flexibly accommodate a wide range of outdoor performances and special events that serve the entire region.” Inspired by the fluid, dramatic, and theatrical movements of the performing arts, the Urban Choreography design concept will connect Jones Plaza to its surrounding environment while creating a unique and artistic space for gathering. The vast plaza is reminiscent of a theatrical stage, where various steps and levels culminate to a plateau of lush green space. The expansive Street Theater, tree-filled Gateway Gardens, and dynamic Spring Stage, characterized by water cascading toward the street, can be found in three corners of the plaza. Each distinct space is connected by a proscenium walk, with multi-functional media towers that allow for various performances, activities, and special events. Meanwhile, a grand staircase and elevator connect the park to an upscale restaurant on Capitol Street. Perhaps the most substantial impact Jones Plaza can have on its surrounding environment is its ability to attract people to the heart of Houston's Theater District. Its presence will only heighten the cultural growth of a region known for its art, creativity, and diversity. RCHS will collaborate with Houston First Corporation, the City of Houston, and Theater District stakeholders on the project.
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RCH Wins

RCH Studios is selected to redevelop L.A.’s historic Lincoln Heights Jail
A team led by Rios Clementi Hale Studios (RCH Studios) and developers Lincoln Property Company and Fifteen Group has been recommended by the Los Angeles Chief Legislative Analyst to redevelop the Los Angeles River–adjacent Lincoln Heights Jail. The recommended scheme calls for repurposing the 90-year-old jail facility while also redeveloping an adjacent 3.2-acre parcel already controlled by Fifteen Group, reports. The new scheme will be anchored around the Los Angeles River and the historic complex, utilizing the river frontage to create a broad promenade that stitches together new and historic buildings with the river. The plan incorporates new bicycle infrastructure and new street trees to connect and improve the surrounding blocks. Though project details are subject to change, the proposal currently calls for 268,250 square feet of residential spaces, 200,000 square feet of commercial uses, and 57,000 square feet of designated manufacturing and retail spaces. The project is slated to contain an unspecified amount of affordable housing. The RCH Studios–led development team was selected from among two other proposals—one led by CIM Group, Lorcan O'Herlihy Architects, LA Más, and Superjacent, and the other made up of WORKS, Mia Lehrer+Associates, Omgivning, and Killefer Flammang Architects. The teams were tasked with finding a productive and equitable approach for redeveloping the 229,000-square-foot art deco and modernist jail complex. The former jail was built in 1927, expanded in the 1950s, and finally decommissioned in 1965. The facilities were used variously thereafter until 2014. Plans call for adding three new structures on the eastern edge of the site to create new housing and a commercial strip, while redeveloping the former jail complex into a manufacturing-focused “makers hall.” The top three levels of the repurposed jail will contain residential functions as well. The project site would be anchored on one end of the riverwalk by a sports field, with a terraced amphitheater occupying the other extremity. The far eastern corner of the triangular site will host a nine-story commercial tower. The project is depicted in renderings as containing various roof gardens and planted areas, with the spaces between the existing and proposed buildings designed as pedestrian paseos. Interior renderings for the residential units in the repurposed jail depict exposed concrete beam ceilings and untreated concrete walls and columns. The project is scheduled for review and approval by the Los Angeles City Council on November 1st.
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Rios Clementi Hale’s parklet rains on Park(ing) Day in Los Angeles
Park(ing) Day, the annual tradition of making micro-parks out of parking spots, calls attention to the need for public space in cities. A pop-up park by Rios Clementi Hale Studios in Los Angeles takes the educational imperative further with a parking space that teaches the benefits of stormwater capture—just in time for this winter’s predicted El Niño. RCHS_ParkingDay2015_P1050777 According to a 2012 district study by the Council for Watershed Health, the City of Los Angeles has the potential to capture the 5.5 billion gallons of storm water. Located across the street from the firm’s headquarters on Larchmont Boulevard, the design uses balloons of different sizes to represent water that could be recycled and reused. RCHS_ParkingDay2015_P1050790 According to the firm, a 24-inch balloon represents 30 gallons of potentially recycled water that could be used for a 15-minute shower. The project, which the designers whimsically call Paradise in a Parking Spot, is part of the firm’s multi-disciplinary efforts to address the drought. Designers are in the street all day to provide facts and tips on capturing water.
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Rios Clementi Hale’s IAC lattice tilts the traditional green roof on its side in West Hollywood
What's a cross between a green roof and a living wall? IAC, the company that brought you Frank Gehry's billowing building by the High Line in New York, is commissioning Rios Clementi Hale to "drape" its white brick building on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood with a six-story sculptural steel lattice—like a living roof turned 45 degrees— containing native plantings irrigated by recaptured underground water. Tall vertical troughs will protrude as much as 14 feet from the building face. At ground level a public space will be added to the building's entry plaza, fitted with steel-plated benches and bike racks. On the west side of the structure, the grid will flatten to become a green roof over a new restaurant. The installation's native plants will be chosen by Paul Kephart of planted roof specialists Rana Creek. At night the gridded structure will be lit from behind, so light will shine through the plants. The project, already under construction, is expected to be completed later this year. 
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Rios Clementi Hale and LPA Win West Hollywood Park Commission
Last month we revealed three shortlisted schemes for the new West Hollywood Park, adjacent to the city's new library off La Cienega Boulevard. Last week the city announced that LPA and Rios Clementi Hale has won, beating out other finalists Frederick Fisher and Partners with CMG and Langdon Wilson. The scheme puts a strong emphasis on the connection between the park itself and its new recreation center and "resort style" rooftop pool (with cabanas and a view terrace). The rec center, clad with vertical green screens, will contain  a park-like podium and a large grand stair leading from to the park. The sprawling public space would be divided into a hard-edged  “public park,” programmed for larger events and athletics, and a sinuous “neighborhood park,” set for passive activities. The $80 million project is set for completion in 2017.
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Clementi/Smith-Clementi Residence
Undine Prohl

Walking through the streets of Venice, it is fun to explore how home styles have evolved over the years, from rough-around-the-edges bungalows to understated modern, unusual post modern, and sleek contemporary concoctions. The home of architects Frank Clementi and Julie Smith-Clementi, located on one of the area’s lovely walk streets, showcases several of these changes under a single roof.

The Clementis, who are principals at local firm Rios Clementi Hale Studios, began work on the house in 1996, converting the small, dilapidated 1920s shack into a light-filled, modern, two-story edifice with a butterfly roof. The project was brought to life through creative uses of inexpensive materials, like angular lap siding, reclaimed maple boards, discontinued tile, patterned plastic laminate, and folded dark metal.


Time marched on, and the couple recently finished an addition that includes renovations and updates to the existing house, a new garage and master bedroom, and a 3,400-square-foot garden, which the couple now shares with Julie’s mother, who bought the house next door.

The oasis-like yard is a stunner, with new planters, lines of garden vegetables, a wide selection of flowering plants, and a massive magnolia tree that serves as the centerpiece. Clementi calls the tree the property’s “unspoken hero.” So the first step in the renovation was to better connect the home to the outdoor space. The architects installed new sliding glass doors, window walls, and (second story) clerestories, and enhanced diagonal view corridors and the sense of openness. The couple moved and opened the kitchen to the rear deck, fitting it with a built-in banquette and with sleek white cabinetry.


The biggest change was the addition of a new back structure, which stands out the second you approach the home. On its first floor is a masonry garage. The bedroom space above in every way feels like a tree house. On the exterior a jagged arrangement of 4-by-12 Douglas Fir planks are imbedded into the CMU to form a sculptural skin that supports the weight of the ceiling above and provides seismic resistance.

“Once we were about hiding the structure; now we’re about exposing it,” said Frank Clementi of his different approaches to the home over the years. “It’s now about honesty, not slight of hand.”


The look of this composition has been nicknamed “French fries” and the “wood basket” by neighbors, who at first seemed worried about the plans but now have come around, said Clementi. The wood planks and the tree house feel were loosely inspired by that “hero” tree in the yard, which is clearly visible from up there.

Inside, the room is clad in plywood, including a 7-foot-tall plywood headboard, and it has a cork floor and Douglas Fir window frames. The tall wood exterior planks provide privacy, but also let in natural light and air. Window walls and sliding glass doors bring in more, particularly from the room’s outdoor balcony. The space also contains walk in closets, a bathroom, a hanging fireplace, and hanging wood bookshelves. Connecting this structure to the main house is a bridge containing a bedroom and an open family room, adding to the sense of flow throughout the house.

A lot of the subsequent changes to the house, said Clementi, came not just from moving away from modernism (a process he calls “urban natural selection”), but from living at the house and “figuring out what was happening.” He added, “You really get an undeniable sense of what the site is and community is. We were lucky.”

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Rios Clementi Hale
Partners (left to right) Julie Smith-Clementi, Mark Rios, Frank Clementi, Bob Hale.
Ryan Schude

As a firm engaged in landscape architecture, planning, architecture, and product design, Rios Clementi Hale Studios seems to be weathering the recession better than most. AN’s Marissa Gluck spoke to principals Bob Hale and Frank Clementi about their latest projects, from the Grand Avenue Civic Park and the Century City Greening Plan to their new espresso cups for Intelligentsia.

The Architect’s Newspaper: Tell us about the origins of Rios Clementi Hale Studios. How did you find each other?

Frank Clementi: Mark Rios started the company with another partner in 1985. He’s a landscape architect and architect, so right from the beginning the office has been multidisciplinary. In 1989, Julie Smith and I were working together at another office on the Sepulveda Arts Park competition, and through that collaboration Julie came to work in this office. About a year later, I came over.

Bob Hale: I met Mark through Eli Broad’s house. I was working at Frank Gehry’s office on the house and Mark was selected as the landscape architect. That was in 1990. I left Frank’s office in 1993 to go work as the VP of design and planning at Universal Studios, where I was responsible for the development of all the projects in Hollywood.

FC: A lot of multi-partner offices have a silo condition, where each partner is responsible for a certain discipline or certain projects. We’re a little more fan-shaped. We all started in architecture and we’re all back-to-back in the center of the circle, but the areas we look at are overlapping. I have a strong product design and graphics background. And Julie is now president of notNeutral, which is our product and pattern design company. So all of us have this interest in planning, but also have questions about how the different disciplines build on each other.

What are the major differences between disciplines?

BH: One that’s interesting is the relationship between pattern-making and landscape architecture, and its overlap with product design. I never really approached an urban or landscape problem from that standpoint, but in fact it becomes a huge piece of it.

FC: This gets a little esoteric, but just the word “field” as it relates to “figure” as opposed to “landscape.” When you are so close to something that you can’t see anything but the details, those details become the most important thing. But when you’re so far away from something that it dissolves into a field, then how it all works together becomes really important. And landscape is a condition that exists at all of those scales. It goes from being right in your face this minute—this flower is blooming—with graphics, nametags, typography, to planning for 50 years from now when this hotel needs to be here, so how do we put streets in place in order to make sure the valets can work without pissing off the neighbors? Architecture sits in the middle of all that.

From a business perspective, how do you integrate the different disciplines organizationally?

BH: We have a relatively flat office hierarchy. In the last ten years, we’ve added designations of partners and senior associates and associates and designers, so there’s just four levels. A partner is involved in every project, and a senior associate deals with its day-to-day management. There’s a lot of interoffice communication. We’re a networked organization more than a hierarchical one. We all work together, we all have similar values in terms of design, but also financial things.

FC: The money goes into one big pot.

Do you feel you’re insulated to a certain degree in a shifting economy?

BH: I wouldn’t say that we’re insulated, but the diversity has helped us get through.

FC: We did that very consciously. There was a time we could get any childcare project we wanted. We just happened to be in the right place at the right time when the first few of them were built. At a certain point, we realized if we become known as the childcare office it ran counter to the general idea of a design firm. So we actually stopped taking that work. Now that seems kind of crazy but it was very calculated; we were careful to always reinvent the wheel. If you know what you’re going to be doing, you’re not really designing anymore. The process of design is really important because you don’t know what you’re going to end up with. You just can’t go through the motions, if you’re doing design.

BH: This is a firm that is driven by ideas and exploration. Anytime we get a little too comfortable with things, we move to something different.

Let’s talk about your collaboration with Intelligentsia on coffee cups. How did that come about? I guess you guys really love coffee.

FC: I’m a dilettante compared to those guys. There’s a contact high, similar to our experience with Austin City Limits, of working with people that are into what they do. It’s completely different from a spec office building. You’re designing for a very specific condition. Intelligentsia is serious. They are very empirical, they don’t care about the rules, they’ll try anything. They saw we were like them. We weren’t going to just do things the way they were always done. We had to prove they were the right way to do them. It’s a very democratic and pragmatic method. We end with a product as small as a cup at the same time we’re working on a 16-acre park downtown with some of the same staff.

How do you transition from private developer to working on a civic project for Century City?

BH: We’ve done lots of work for both private firms and public entities. We got to know the public folks through having initiated work from a private developer.

FC: Century City had systemic problems. Each of the blocks will never have a connection to another block unless you deal with it systemically. Originally, the planners thought that it didn’t have to have pedestrians.

BH: It’s been interesting. There is a lot of work going on there now like the Century Plaza hotel. We’re also doing the masterplan for Universal Studios. In terms of acreage, it’s the biggest project but it’s only at the planning and entitlement level. The Grand Avenue Civic Park is about to go out to bid. That’s the largest landscape we’re building. There was a lot of civic engagement in terms of process. The Related folks had to pay the lease on the land upfront. The check had cleared before they started having problems. It’s the only part of the whole Grand Avenue project moving forward.

FC: If you’re a populist, then it’s a huge lucky break for the city.

When do you expect to break ground on the Civic Park?

FC: It should break ground by June.

Let’s talk about the direction LA has been taking in the past decade. Where do you see it moving in the next decade?

FC: You can float along, but you still should know where the waves are. I grew up here and what I like about the city is its nodal quality—its centerlessness. I live in Venice and deliberately don’t work there. I take public transportation. There are overlapping layers of the city. I love classical cities like Paris and Manhattan where you have an understanding of the hierarchical condition. But I like the rhizomatic nature of Los Angeles. The concern I have is that an antiquated notion of a central condition is the only option. I still question if that is the only way. Technology makes it not so necessary to be in the same physical place. This idea of shifting centers is intriguing. I don’t argue that Silver Lake is better or worse than Venice. I love the balkanization. There’s a cultural richness that resists homogeneity.

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Grand Park Children’s Playground
Jim Simmons

Grand Park Children’s Playground
200 North Grand Avenue
Los Angeles
Designer: Rios Clementi Hale Studios

Los Angeles' Grand Park, completed in 2012, has been a huge hit with kids thanks largely to its interactive “splash pad” at the Arthur J. Will Memorial Fountain. Now the park offers a powerful new feature for youngsters: the 3,500-square-foot “fanciful forest” playground, designed by Rios Clementi Hale Studios.


Intended for children up to 12 years old, the “forest” is highlighted by a 20-foot-tall, three-tiered tree house made of Brazilian hardwood and structural steel painted lime-green. Children make their way down via a 12-foot-long tube slide or a 4-foot roller slide. At its base, an undulating soft play surface is littered with vibrant spots, inspired by the experience of playing in mounds of colorful leaves. Large berms are fitted with rock-climbing handles and tunnels, while sycamore trees are planted intermittently, providing shade and a touch of actual forest. A bright, leaf-shaped fence at the entrance further emphasizes the park’s autumn motif.

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Residences at W Hollywood Amenity Deck
Jeff Simmons

While the W only opened in Hollywood back in 2010, the hotel has already replaced the original rooftop pool deck for its condos with a new space designed by Rios Clementi Hale Studios. The old deck, designed by Daly Genik Architects, was beautiful but severe. Rios Clementi Hale opted for a more casual approach, which they call an “outdoor living room.”


The inspiration, said designer Mike Sweeney, is LA’s mix of beach and city, which plays out with a combination of hard elements like concrete and metal, and soft elements like wood and colorful foliage. Visitors walk up a small flight of stairs, surrounded by a dense growth of green and purple native and low water plants, to the pool, as if they were passing through the dunes at the shore. The pool deck is organized around a series of meandering pathways and informal spaces that allow for many activities to go on at once. Sweeney said the arrangement makes “it feel like you’re in a garden in the midst of all these rooftops.”

The scene from the roof is dominated by Hollywood’s jumble of towers, billboards, streetscapes, and hills. The architects placed a double-layered water jet cut aluminum sunshade for the barbecue on the east edge of the space as a nod to the omnipresent signage. More shade is provided by fabric cabanas and the abundant plantings. Custom, irregularly-shaped polished concrete fire tables, imbedded with Micah, add a splash of mysterious darkness and nod to the neighborhood’s legendary Walk of Fame. The matte flooring around the pool is light grey concrete.


The central organizing element of the project is a curving spine that bisects the roof, traced to the south by a giant curving Ipe wood daybed, that, Sweeney notes, matches the large scale of the surrounding city. The slatted Ipe fence behind the bed provides a sense of shape and enclosure, but doesn’t block any views. The daybed as well as the other ipe furniture on the deck was custom built on site. This warm and soft material, tempering the hardness of the city and the rooftop, also clads a self-serve bar area and a gym to the west.

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Jim Simmons

Café Gratitude
639 North Larchmont Blvd.
Los Angeles
Tel: 323.580.6383
Architect: Rios Clementi Hale Studios

Rios Clementi Hale Studios seems to be building a small empire at the north end of Larchmont Boulevard in Los Angeles. Out of the bones of what was once a “hideous” development, said firm partner Julie Smith-Clementi, the firm has designed a very modern mixed-use complex at 639 N. Larchmont that includes the firm’s offices, a store for its notNeutral home furnishings line, and a salon. The most recent addition is Café Gratitude, a Bay Area-based café that has opened its first So Cal location on the first floor.

The firm’s design for the L-shaped café manages to merge the building’s very modern feel (highlighted by large water-jet cut aluminum screens) with the vegan café’s decidedly crunchier sensibility. “We took their aesthetic and streamlined and simplified it,” said Smith-Clementi.

Hand-made concrete tile floors with organic patterning and a vertical picket fence made of tropical wood contrast with steel fittings and structure, and large expanses of glass. Tying it all together is a large white tongue-and-groove wood structure above the bar that acts as the centerpiece. The mix is still eclectic, like Gratitude’s original stores, but edited. Who says urban modernists and farm-friendly vegans can’t coexist?

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A+D Team, Assemble!

A+D Museum brings a “disgusting food museum” and others shows to L.A.
The Architecture + Design Museum (A+D) in Los Angeles is continuing a recent tradition of simultaneous exhibition openings this weekend as it hosts the third Assembly extravaganza with the aim of ”join[ing] together a diverse group in celebration of different disciplines of design and points of view.” Taking place Saturday evening, the opening celebration will usher in four new exhibitions at A+D, including a “disgusting food museum” as well as the premiere of the museum’s so-called “impermanent collection,” a rotating set of artworks and products created by exhibited artists that will be for sale. Disgusting Food Museum The museum will host the Disgusting Food Museum, an exhibition from Sweden that “explores of the concept of disgust through different culturally and individually informed reactions” and includes displays of delectable treats like mouse wine, Jello pudding, and other specialized foods. Alley Fellowship A+D recently undertook a partnership with architects Rios Clementi Hale Studios that is focused on supporting cross-disciplinary emerging artists through the Alley Fellowship. The first series is titled Volume, and features the work of young artists from the Leimert Park neighborhood—where RCH Studios’s new offices are located—who have been challenged to think three-dimensionally about their work. PERSISTENT: Evolving Architecture in a Changing World Presented in conjunction with the Open Building For Resilient Cities Conference, PERSISTENT: Evolving Architecture in a Changing World, focuses on the way in which “robust, sustainable, and resilient architecture can be obtained and studied with respect to time.” The exhibition is curated by Michelle Laboy, David Fannon, and Peter Wiederspahn with the support of the AIA Latrobe Prize and the Northeastern University, College of Arts, Media and Design. Dark Mode Artist and architect P810 will present an “eerie take on Dark Mode, which takes as its premise the visual digital standard of ‘dark mode’ becoming part of the home.” The design collection imagines new sculptural realities for typical objects of the home, according to a press release, including objects that come alive when they are switched off. For more information on each exhibit please visit the A+D website.